Big Food Watch: Horizon Organic Milk Isn’t Organic, Class Action Says

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Horizon Organic Milk Isn’t Organic, Class Action Says

The makers of Horizon Organic milk have been hit with class action allegations that their popular milk products are not actually organic as advertised.

Lead plaintiff Crystal Brown claims in her class action lawsuit that the producers of Horizon Organic milk plus DHA Omega-3 products, Danone North America and The WhiteWave Foods Company (DanoneWave), deceptively market the milk as organic, when the DHA added to the product is not.

Brown says that she and others purchased Horizon Organic milk because it is “certified” organic; however, the DHA additive is not organic. The plaintiff claims she would not have purchased or paid as much for the milk if she had known it was not organic.

“As DanoneWave knows and promotes, there is an ever-increasing sentiment among consumers that organic foods and beverages are healthier than and superior to conventionally produced foods and beverages,” alleges the Horizon Organic milk class action. “Consumers are willing to, and do, pay more for organic foods and beverages. DanoneWave’s advertising and marketing campaign is designed to induce consumers to purchase Horizon Organic milk in reliance on defendants’ false and deceptive promise that the milk is organic.”

Brown’s class action alleges that DanoneWave should not advertise Horizon milk as organic because the docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a type of omega-3 fatty acid, is not organic. The plaintiff claims that the DHA is synthetically manufactured and derived from algae. The algae, says the plaintiff, is fed corn syrup that comes from genetically modified corn.

Further, Brown says DHA “is not an additive that may be included in certified organic food products, such as defendants’ Horizon Organic milk.” According to the Horizon Organic milk class action, the FDA only allows a small number of essential vitamins and minerals to be added to foods advertised as organic.

“As a result of DanoneWave’s false and misleading advertising, defendants have caused consumers to purchase Horizon Organic milk that is not organic as it purports to be,” states the Horizon milk class action complaint.

The DanoneWave milk products the plaintiff claims are falsely advertised as organic include: Horizon Organic Milk with DHA Omega-3; Horizon Organic Reduced Fat Milk with DHA Omega-3; Horizon Organic Fat-Free Milk with DHA Omega-3; Horizon Organic Lowfat Chocolate Milk with DHA Omega-3; Horizon Organic Lowfat Chocolate Milk Box with DHA Omega-3; and Horizon Organic Lowfat Vanilla Milk Box with DHA Omega-3.

The plaintiff seeks to represent a nationwide Class of consumers who purchased Horizon milk products. DanoneWave’s allegedly false marketing of Horizon milk as organic violates California consumer protection laws, according to the class action.

Brown is seeking restitution on behalf of herself and other purchasers of Horizon Organic milk products. She also wants a court order stopping DanoneWave from falsely advertising the product as organic.

This is not the first class action to hit DanoneWave regarding the popular line of milk products. In the summer of 2017, a class action alleged that the food makers overstated the benefits of the DHA added to Horizon Organic milk products, misleading consumers into paying more for a product that can’t possibly provide the advertised brain health benefits.

Brown is represented by Timothy G. Blood, Leslie Hurst, and Paula Brown of Blood Hurst & O’Reardon LLP, Kasie Braswell and D. Brian Murphy of Braswell Murphy LLC, W. Daniel Miles, III and Archie Grubb of Beasley Allen Crow Methvin Portis & Miles PC, and Peter Fredman of Law Office of Peter Fredman PC.

The Horizon Organic DHA Milk False Advertising Class Action Lawsuit is Brown v. Danone North America LLC, et al., Case No. 4:17-cv-07325, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Francisco Division.


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